‘Trains to Life – Trains to Death’ - Atlas Obscura

‘Trains to Life – Trains to Death’

A haunting contrast of trains that both saved and took the lives of Jewish children in Nazi Germany. 

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Located outside Friedrichstraße Station, Berlin, the public bronze sculpture titled “Train to Life – Train to Death” by Israeli architect Frank Meisler is a haunting depiction of Jewish children’s struggles and suffering in Nazi Germany.

The artwork consists of two groups of children. One is a pair of children carrying suitcases, perhaps a brother and sister. They represent the Kindertransport—a rescue program conducted by the British government to evacuate 10,000 children from Nazi-occupied territories just before the outbreak of World War II.

Among the children saved was none other than Frank Meisler, who was transported on a train from Danzig to Berlin, then to Liverpool via the Netherlands, where he was raised by his aunt. His parents were later murdered at Auschwitz.

The second group of children, consisting of two girls and three boys, represent the 1,600,000 victims of the Nazi regime, those sent to concentration camps on Holocaust trains—the “trains to death.” Their eyes are filled with terror and sorrow, making the contrast between the two trains stark and even more gut-wrenching.

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August 23, 2023

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